Aberdeenshire UNISON

National Delegate Conference
20th - 23rd June 2017 in Brighton

Conference overview
Sadness but also optimism at this year's conference

The cloud of the tragic events in London and Manchester hung heavy over this year's Conference.

The aftermath of the Grenfell Tower fire, whatever the causes, threw into focus the reality of the divide in a Tory UK between obscene wealth and inexcusable poverty.

Conference The need to address that was reflected in policies we set on breaking the pay cap, on campaigning for decent public services, on housing policies and on a decent living wage that is actually enough to live on.

Equalities too was high on the agenda. One of the most moving bits of any Conference is when people who are directly affected have a personal story to tell. There was much of that in this debate. The pain of the stories was matched only by the courage of the delegates telling them.

But there was optimism too. The outcome of the General Election left us all with hope that there is an end to austerity in sight. The Labour Manifesto, so heavily built on the policies that UNISON has been calling for since 2010 and before, gave a more upbeat feel to this conference than has been in evidence for a long time. And Jeremy Corbyn's wonderful speech as he addressed UNISON conference was the icing on the cake.

"The politics of hope will always overcome the politics of fear," said Jeremy to cheers.

Asked about his priority in government he told us that it is first and foremost to sort economy to reduce inequality and invest in public services; a plan to build more houses; proper funding for health and social care and education.

Jeremy Corbyn came into the conference hall to a standing ovation and he was given another standing ovation at the end of his speech.

Kathleen Kennedy
Kathleen Kennedy

Branch delegates did not get into the debates this year but both Susan Kennedy, Asst Branch Secretary, there representing the Local Government Service Group Executive; and Kathleen Kennedy, Branch Equalities Officer, representing National Disabled Members were at the podium.

Key role for branches in tackling stress

Scotland’s Kathleen Kennedy, supporting the motion on behalf of Disabled Members, spoke of her own experience in the workplace. She called for branches to get more involved in providing support, training and guidance to tackle stress at work.

There must be support for members living with mental ill health

Moving the motion on behalf of the National Disabled Members Kathleen Kennedy told delegates that one in four people experience mental ill health at one stage in their lives and yet mental health is still a taboo subject.

“There is still a lot of prejudice and lack of understanding around mental health, which means that many people don’t feel comfortable disclosing their mental ill health.

“It is vital that anyone with mental ill health is able to get the support they need, without fear of judgement or discrimination, and that mental health is treated equally with physical health.”

Susan Kennedy
Susan Kennedy

Scotland’s Susan Kennedy, speaking for the Local Government Service Group supported the need for UNISON to provide dedicated Mental Health Champions to support our members, activists and delegates at conference.

Susan said, “This week at both Local Government and National Delegate conferences we have all witnessed the impact of government cuts. Cuts which bear relation to increased workplace stress and mental health issues.”

Read full report here

Terminally ill workers must have legal protections

Scotland’s Susan Kennedy, speaking on behalf of the Local Government Service Group Executive told delegates that UNISON supports the TUC’s ‘Dying to work’ campaign and the call for all of us to promote and campaign to force the employers to sign up to the ‘Dying to Work Charter’.

“The choice to remain in work or not should sit with the individual…NOT with the employer,” said Susan, condemning employers who increasingly and unfairly force our members with terminal illnesses out of a job through their capability policies.

Read full report here


Who's who?

Every UNISON branch elects a delegation to attend annual conference and to vote on behalf of their local branch members. Scotland has about 200 delegates. This branch has three. Two must be women and one of these must be a low paid woman, to reflect the make-up of the branch.

Branch Committee voted this year's delegation to Conference in Brighton as:

Inez Teece Brenda Richmond Kate Ramsden Ann Gray
Inez Teece Branch Secretary

Brenda Richmond, Cornerstone

Kate Ramsden
Branch Chair and Comms Officer (sharer)
Ann Gray. Steward and Treasurer (sharer)

UNISON Scotland Briefing Team
Kate RamsdenKate Ramsden will also be one of UNISON Scotland's Conference Briefing Team again this year. The Briefings are used to inform Scottish delegates of UNISON Scotland's policy position on the debates. They also include some reports of debates involving Scottish speakers, and many more will go on the UNISON Scotland website.

Susan KennedyService Group Executive (SGE)
Susan Kennedy, one of our Assistant Branch Secretaries, will be a delegate to this year's Annual Delegate conference from the Local Government Service Group, which is the national leadership in Local Government across the UK. Susan has been an elected representative on the SGE for five years now.


Kathleen KennedyNational Disabled Members Committee
Branch equalities officer Kathleen Kennedy will be representing national disabled members at National Delegate Conference. This is Kathleen's first time as a representative of the National Disabled Members Committee and we wish her all the best from the branch.


What's what?

UNISON's annual National Delegate Conference is the union's ruling body. Every year delegates from all over the country take part in debates to choose our campaigning priorities and policies.

Conference is chaired by the UNISON National President, or by one of the Vice-Presidents. This year there are over 100 motions on the conference agenda again and a number of proposed amendments to the UNISON rules. Only a proportion of motions will actually be debated at Conference because there is not time to hear them all. Motions are therefore "prioritised".

Branch motions and amendments
The Branch has submitted one motion to NDC, "More time for communication at conferences." This has been ruled out of order as needing a rule change. However the principles of the motion ie that delegates with communication difficulties should be able to request additional speaking time has been accepted. The branch has been advised that the President's introductory remarks will make it clear that delegates needing extra time just need to advise rostrum control and an extra minute will be allowed.

Motions are passed by a straight majority of the conference delegates on a hand vote. If it is close, conference delegates or the chair of conference can call for a card vote. The number of card votes per delegation is based on the number of members in the branch.

Amendments to rule need to be approved by a two-thirds majority of the voting delegates. Card votes can also be called for (and often are) in rule changes. Thursday afternoon is traditionally the time that the rule changes are debated. Many delegates find this session really boring, but in recent years it has produced some of the best debates, and often the funniest speeches.

As delegates we will vote on the motions and the rule changes in line with branch policy, where we have that in place and we can speak for or against any of the motions, amendments and rule changes, again in line with Branch policy, if we have a position.



Annual Delegate Conference 2017


Glasgow 2015

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